Create an experience that delights your audience and makes them want to continue working with & referring business to you.
Branding is one of the most misunderstood aspects of business. Some think it’s just a logo, while others mistake it for marketing. While both of those play a part in your business’ branding, they aren’t branding. I will clarify five of the most common misunderstood aspects of business branding. Then you will be equipped to use intentional branding to accelerate your business’ growth.
Beyond the logo and marketing campaigns, your brand is how your target audience perceives the value you provide for the product or service you provide. Branding is the culmination of everything you say and do as perceived by people.
Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers. To create an experience that delights your audience and makes them want to continue working with and referring business to you, implement the following.
1. Clear Defined Purpose
“WHY: Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. When I say WHY, I don’t mean to make money -- that’s a result. By WHY I mean what is your purpose, cause or belief? WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?” Simon Sinek, Author of the book Start with Why
I wish I could say it better, but Simon hits the proverbial nail on the head. Without a clear and well-defined purpose (or ‘why’) your company can’t expect onlookers to understand why you are different from the competition. It’s a bit of a head spinning concept. When done right a clear purpose not only solidifies the message you project in your marketing but also unifies your team internally. If your entire team knew and supported the driving force behind your business, how much better would your customer service be?
How to Implement:
Rethink your mission/vision/purpose statement. Check out How to Write your Company Mission Statement by our friends over at Process.st. They analyzed 200 mission statements to show how to create the most impact. You may even consider reaching out to existing customers and asking, “Why do you do business with us?” The answers may surprise you.
2. Embrace Emotion
It’s important to start understanding the underlying emotion your business, product or service has on your customers because people buy things for the way it makes them feel. Emotion can be used to help sell a product, create community or cause reaction. It is also helpful in developing a message that permeates everything your business does.
Apple uses several emotions to sell their products. When promoting the iPod back in the early ‘00s it was fun, carefree and youthful. Combined with their imagery and message they wanted their target audience to feel like Apple’s iPod was a way to escape the dull and boring.
Small businesses can accomplish this too.
We use emotion in our everyday communications. We avoid pushy language and show genuine interest.
Why? Because we want all of our clients to know that we care about them and their business’s well-being, first, and that we have their best interests in mind.
We strive for our clients to feel at ease when working with a marketing company. Hense, our slogan: Marketing with Ease.
How to Implement:
People buy products, not for just what they do, but for how it makes them feel or look to others. In the same way, people work with companies because of the same reasons.
Learn to understand the deepest motivation your customers have that causes them to work with you. Harness the power of that emotion to foster a deeper and more cohesive emotional brand presence. To learn more about being more customer-centric check out the book Badass: Making Users Awesome by Kathy Sierra.
3. Encourage Loyalty
Speaking of Loyalty, there are several benefits to creating raving fans. If you already have customers who love working with you don’t squander those contacts. Reward them and show your gratitude. Think about it - instead of choosing to work with any other business, they chose you.
Establishing a strong loyalty with customers is something all industries should be doing. The simplest thing is to reach out and simply thank them. And remember to stay true to your brand by doing it in your own special way.
If your customer is dissatisfied, reach out them to understand their perspective. Don’t avoid the negative. Investigate the root of an issue and find a solution for future customers can be just as important as thanking the loyal patrons.
Loyalty is a critical part of every brand strategy, especially if you're looking to support sales. Highlighting a positive relationship between you and your existing customers sets the tone for what potential customers can expect if they choose to do business with you.
How to Implement:
Get creative and let your team help brainstorm simple ideas to say thank you to customers. It can be as simple as a notecard. It can be as extravagant as an after-hours cocktail party. A simple thanks goes a long way. If you need some fun inspiration, check out 25 Fun, Quirky and Memorable Ways to Thank Your Customers by our pals over al HelpScout.
4. Be Consistent
We’ve all witnessed it.
You find a business then you visit their website, Facebook, or office and suddenly feel that bait-n-switch. The sinking feeling in your gut looms as you wonder “Is this the right place? Is that who I talked to?”
Have you ever encountered a website that uses terms like, "us, we, our team, etc" and then come to find out that it is just one person running the show? How did that make you feel? Did you trust that they were being transparent with you?
Creating a cohesive and consistent experience for your audience is essential. Your logo, website, social media, printed materials and human interactions need to all make sense and be rooted in your core purpose (remember point #1?).
Here’s an example of the turmoil that comes from a lack of consistency. When Volkswagen released their first luxury car, the Phaeton, in 2004, to compete against other luxury brands like BMW and Mercedes there was something missing. While the car had cutting edge features and amazing power it was ultimately seen as a failure. Why? Because Volkswagen translated to “people’s car”. That’s how people perceived them. So when they released a luxury car (aka not a “people’s car”) they failed to implement consistent branding.
How to Implement:
A great way of identifying if you may not have a consistent experience for your customers is surveys. Actually reaching out and hearing what your customers have to say can reveal things you may have never thought of. Customers help you see areas of your business you haven’t explored yet. Here’s great read about how to design a survey that gets results by HubSpot.
5. Stay Flexible
As your business ages you need to stay aware of the world around you so you are not left behind. There is a very fine balancing point between consistency and flexibility. You want to stay agile with changing times but not lose sight of your core brand.
Old Spice is a product most of us can remember our father or grandfather having in their bathroom because it’s been around since 1937. (Originally marketed to women, by the way! How crazy.) As they aged their classic white bottles became outdated. Regardless, they didn’t want to lose who they were. That’s when they teamed up with Wieden+Kennedy to help reintroduce their timeless brand to new generations. And it’s been a success.
How to Implement:
Remember to not stay stagnant, certain tactics and styles may have worked in the past but you must be open to change. A good way to do this is by following a company you admire and watching how they adapt. The key here is to remember not all advice is good advice for you.
The best way to maintain flexibility is to not be afraid to try new things. It might be a little uncomfortable, but it will keep you in touch with the ever-changing world around you.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read)
Creating a solid brand for your business doesn’t have be a muddy process. Branding is a culmination of
- Having a clearly defined purpose - Your business needs to have direction so you do drift into the marketing abyss.
- Embracing emotion - Feelings can be powerful in creating a link between you and your audience.
- Encouraging Loyalty - Customers want to feel like you care and appreciate them too. Remember to show them gratitude in creative ways.
- Being Consistent - Everything that your audience can interact with will reflect back on their overall experience. Make sure you put your best foot forward
- Staying Flexible - Don’t let tradition overrule everything. Stay open to changing tactics and how your audience evolves over time.
If you’d like a little more insight and guidance we are happy to help build a solid brand strategy for your business. Tell us your story today.